It all started with a helmet poke.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston almost cringes when he thinks about it now.

If he had held back his temper, perhaps things would've gone a lot differently. Maybe Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore would've walked away and never considered each other more than competitors that face off twice a year.

But Winston couldn't help himself on Nov. 5, 2017.

Winston, then with the Buccaneers, had just injured his shoulder in the third quarter of an eventual loss to the Saints. He was frustrated, irritated and really didn't want to deal with Lattimore, then a rookie cornerback for the Saints, who was walking near the Bucs sideline.

So Winston poked Lattimore in the helmet and told him to go away. Lattimore shoved Winston, Evans rushed in to defend his quarterback, blindsiding Lattimore and sending him to the ground. Other players joined the fray, and while Evans wasn't thrown out that day, he was eventually suspended for a game.

One of the most heated player rivalries in the NFL was born.

"I was not in a good place because I had just gotten took out of the game," Winston recalled. "There was a benching that I was not comfortable with. I just remember Marshon being on our sideline, being competitive. And Mike came in and hit him. I don't necessarily think that was fair, but Mike was my teammate, my receiver. So I've got to understand the risks that [it] had, what that could've been for Marshon. ... Mike was a competitor, he was like, 'That was my quarterback.' And that's how he was over there."

When asked about Winston feeling a sense of responsibility for starting the rift, Evans simply said, "It is what it is," and said he maintains a close relationship with Winston.